Worlds Apart: Part Two
Orell was the nicest guard in the dungeons of Meridell Castle. He never yelled. He rarely got angry. He always smiled.
“Hey, you, you big old scary guard.” Jaden smiled at him, leaning casually against the bars and looking at the big Skeith.
“Hi, Jae. How are you?” He liked Jae. She was sweet. While most of the other prisoners were constantly banging on the bars and yelling obscenities, the behaviour of Jae and her little friend Vincent were a pleasant and refreshing change.
“Better than ever, actually. Got a plan.” She winked at him mischievously, barely able to contain her knowing grin.
He chuckled deeply, passing her an apple through the bars and looking interested.
“A plan, huh? Must be a good one; you’ve been working on it for three years. That new boy got something to do with it, I would assume.”
She took the apple and smiled gratefully at him. He always snuck her and Vin an extra piece of food or two.
“You bet. He’s the icing on the cupcake. You’ve been so good to me and Vinny all these years, Orell. It’s time we repaid that debt. It’s the least we can do.”
“You ain’t in any debt, kid, and what in the name of Fyora are you talking about?” the big Skeith asked curiously, peering past her into the cell, where Vin and Carrick were sitting with their backs to them.
“We’re getting out of here, Orell. Tonight. Me, Vinny and Carrick. It’s all planned. It’s perfect. We just needed that third person, and we’ve got him. This is goodbye, friend.”
Orell frowned in confusion and raised one big hand.
“Hold on a second there, kid. Why are you telling a guard that you’re planning on... escaping? Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?”
“So you can be out of the way when we do. You’ve always been so nice to me and Vincent. We don’t want you to be hurt. It’s a solid plan, but anything could go wrong and someone could get hurt.”
“That’s awfully sweet of you, Jae, but you’re in here for a reason. I can’t just stand aside and let you walk out. If I let everyone who was nice to me out of here, I would be out of a job.” Orell sighed and rattled his chain of keys. “Only one way in and out, and I’m not giving it to you.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Jaden said, and hurriedly rushed on at the sight of worry on the old Skeith’s face. “Not wrong about the whole not-giving-us-the-key thing, but about the one way in and out part. You know there’s a set of sewage tunnels running under this Castle, right?”
“Sure,” Orell said, wrinkling his nose in distaste. “But ew. Really, ew. That’s wrong, Jae, even for you.”
“You meant that in the nicest way possible, I’m sure,” Jaden said dryly, chomping a bite out of her apple.
“You know it.”
“It’s not the sewage we’re after, silly. But the sewage system’s pipes run through these walls, and all we need to do is ─ well I’m sure you’ll understand why I can’t tell you the actual plan, but I can tell you that you don’t want to be on duty tonight. Call in sick or something. Say you’ve got Kikoughela. Have a few coughing fits, they’ll never know. Or Neezles!”
“Neezles? You’ve lost your marbles, kid. But let’s just suppose you do get out. Where will you go? You know I’ll have to chase you, Jae. All three of you. I’ll end up chasing you across Meridell! I’m old, I shouldn’t be doing that. And anyway, once you are on the run, you will always be looking over your shoulder.”
“I lived like that before,” Jaden said darkly, scowling at the memories.
“I know you did. But really, what I should do is get extra guards here tonight, knowing you three are planning to bust out.”
“The more the merrier. Doesn’t matter who or what is here tonight, Orell, we’re getting out. I’m only trying to help you,” Jaden said, her large eyes staring earnestly at the old guard.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes. He had never looked as old or as weary in his entire forty three years of being a guard at Meridell Castle.
“You’re giving me a headache, Jae. You and Vin should never have been put in a cell together. Honestly, what were they thinking? Should have left that Kyrii at the Space Station! Let the Grundos deal with him.”
“So you’ll make sure you are not here?”
“No. I’ll never leave my post. Except to chase you across Meridell, which is inevitable. I am a soldier. And a darned fine one! Go on now, get back to scheming or whatever it is you three are doing. Some of us actually have work to do,” he said, raising an eyebrow at her before turning and stomping heavily away, muttering under his breath.
With a sad sigh, Jaden looked on after him for a few minutes before turning and walking back over to where Vin and Carrick were playing Cheat!, and sat down heavily beside them.
“He’s not leaving,” she said as Vin opened his mouth, promptly cutting him off. He closed it with a loud snap, his eyes sad.
“We’re still doing this, though, right?” Carrick asked, looking back and forth at his friends. Perhaps their affection for the old guard would get in the way of their plan?
But no. Surprisingly, it was Vin who spoke up, his voice rather fierce.
“Tonight. Tonight, it begins.”
And they solemnly turned back into their cards, their heads full of thoughts that for Jaden, for once, did not consist of a tinkling music box.
It wasn’t exactly midnight. The guards did a check at midnight, so the whole plan would be over before it had even started. So at about a quarter to 2 in the morning, as the guard on duty had just fallen back into slumber, his head against the wall and snoring almost as loudly as Vin, the three occupants of Cell No. 6 were lying awake and tensed for action.
If you looked closely, you would notice that the Green Kyrii had pulled his heavy, black hood over his head. The Darigan Scorchio had crept as quietly as his big clomping feet had allowed him, over to the gate and was leaning against it, almost casually. And the Pink Zafara had been quietly turning the small tap in the corner until it had broken off, exposing the pipe snaking through the wall.
If you’d been paying attention for the last week, you would have noticed the stash of food that they had collectively saved from their daily meals. Bread, potatoes, the occasional turnip or two, were sitting in a pile under the blanket, mould sprouting up in places, but still good for what they intended to use them for.
Now, it wasn’t like Jaden or Vincent had never tried to escape before. Many times, they had tried and failed. A couple of almost-nearly-there’s filled them up with hope to continue trying. They had even got as close as snagging the keys off one of the guards. Unfortunately that particular plan had ended with them having no food for a week.
The guards thought they had learned their lesson. Oh, how wrong they were.
At precisely twelve minutes past two o’clock, Jaden had her arms full of potatoes and bread, and pitched one at Carrick, who shot flames at it through his nose, and send it flying past the guard and into the electricity box in the far corner. It crackled and fizzed before exploding into fire.
Instantly the lamps lining the walls in the corridor went out, engulfing the entire dungeon in darkness. The three bandits stood completely still, listening. When they heard the guards snores continue, they moved silently in the blackness.
Jaden continued to throw lumps of food at Carrick, who set them on fire and directed them at the hole in the wall, where they vanished down through the pipe, while Vin stood watching the guard at the gate.
“Guys?” Vin called urgently from his post. “We’ve got company!”
The other guards had finally noticed that the dungeon was too dark and had gone down to investigate and seen the snoozing guard. There was a great commotion with scuffling feet and hoarse shouts and then there were guards everywhere.
“NOW, VINCENT!” Jaden yelled at the Kyrii, as Carrick sent the last flaming turnip into the pipe. The world seemed to stand still for a moment, cold silence hanging on the air. And then ─
The dungeon exploded.
The flaming pieces of food had exploded the noxious gases in the pipes and now there was fire and water and stone raining down upon them.
The three bandits linked arms and dared to glance back at the guards trying to unlock the gate. There were shouts and screams from all round, and then, without another backward glance, the three friends climbed up through the wreckage of the hole in the wall and into the night, leaving Cell No. 6 in ruins, and the guards enraged.
To be continued...